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About the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003

Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA)[1] to address the problem of sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies. PREA calls for Federal, State, and local corrections systems to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding prison rape (as defined by PREA) in prisons, jails, police lock-ups, and other confinement facilities.

Highlights of PREA include:

  • Requires development of standards for detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape.
  • Standardizes collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of prison rape.
  • Awards grants to help State and local governments implement the Act's provisions.

The Act applies to all public and private institutions that house adult or juvenile offenders and to community-based correctional agencies.

The Office of Justice Programs sponsors a PREA Web page with links to resources.


[1] Content on this page was excerpted from the National Institute of Corrections Online Clearinghouse on PREA, (accessed December 21, 2006). See PREA, Public Law 108–79, Sept. 4, 2003 (pdf) .

Date Entered: November 6, 2007